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We Asked A Professional Whether Situationships Are Good & Why It's So Painful To Move On

TL;DR: Situationships are just as serious as real relationships, and the heartbreak you feel is completely valid!

Cover image via freepik & Priscilla Maria De Netto (Provided to SAYS)

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With the rise of TikTok and dating apps, it seems that situationships are becoming increasingly common, but are they healthy for you?

Before we answer that, it's important to clear up what a situationship is, as it's actually been around for ages — Gen Zs, as usual, just like to take terms and rename them to make themselves seem original.

From the word itself, situationship is a combination of the words, "situation" and "relationship".

It's a label-free or a grey-area relationship where the boundaries aren't defined and there isn't much commitment from both parties.

The individuals involved may engage in behaviours that are typical for romantic partners — spending time together and being physically and emotionally intimate — yet without the formal title of boyfriend-girlfriend or exclusivity.

This differs from a friends-with-benefits relationship, where intimacy occurs without dating.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via senivpetro/freepik

Now that we've got that out of the way, can situationships be a good way to start a relationship?

We spoke to Dr Priscilla Maria De Netto, a licensed and registered professional counsellor, and an expert in relationship science, who said that situationships can be a healthy way to start a relationship — but there's a catch

Dr Priscilla Maria De Netto

Image via Priscilla Maria De Netto (Provided to SAYS)

"It can be a low-pressure way to explore your options, your compatibility, and what you want and need, especially when you're still new to the dating scene or you find yourself unable to commit to something serious.

"There's more freedom and flexibility to prioritise your personal growth and maintain your autonomy while enjoying the benefits of emotional connection, physical intimacy, and companionship," she said.

Priscilla believes that both childhood and past relationship traumas could be linked to the reason why people become involved in situationships

Besides just wanting to test the waters in the early stages of the relationship, people may find themselves in a situationship because it lowers their perceived risk of getting hurt and lessens the responsibility of being in a committed relationship.

"There are various reasons why people would get into situationships. It could be due to a fear of rejection, a fear of commitment and intimacy, or a fear of conflict," she said.

Hence, clear communication and setting boundaries early on can help prevent misunderstandings and alleviate fears related to past traumas or rejection.

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Image via Pixabay/Pexels

It also allows both parties to understand each other's needs and expectations, creating a healthier dynamic in the situationship.

"The downside of starting a situationship is that it can lead to misunderstandings. So, without clear boundaries and clear communication, it can get messy.

"It can also cause a lot of stress for one or both parties, which can lead to missed opportunities to have conversations about your values," added Priscilla.

When it comes to the effects of situationships, Priscilla said that a person's mental health might be heavily affected if the connection turns sour

This mental impact stems from the constant worry of the unknown, and individuals in situationships may find themselves asking, "What if?" repeatedly, as they navigate a relationship without having explicitly defined its dynamic or future.

"Your insecurities can get triggered by all the uncertainties, which can then heighten a person's stress levels. It can also lead to depression and anxiety, especially for the person who wants more out of the relationship," said Priscilla.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via freepik

However, both individuals who have 'survived' a situationship that didn't work out should see it as a learning experience rather than viewing it negatively

"If a situationship fails, the first thing you should do in the process of healing is not frame it as a 'failed situationship' and look at it in a more positive light. In the end, all it means is that the relationship wasn't meant for you," said Priscilla.

She went on to say that despite not having an official boyfriend-girlfriend title, a situationship is still a very real relationship that can affect how a person navigates their future connections, so it's important to grieve properly from it.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Windd/Pexels

"A lot of people believe that a situationship is not a 'real' relationship, but it actually is. It was a connection between two people that was broken, so you need to allow yourself to heal and feel the range of emotions that you are feeling. However, it's important to be patient and compassionate about yourself in this process.

"You also need to learn about yourself, your life, and what you want out of a relationship through this experience. So, take time to explore patterns that you liked and didn't like about the situations, and maybe your areas of improvement," she added.

While healing from a situationship that has ended, both parties are encouraged to set boundaries.

It's perfectly acceptable to cut off connections with the other party — even if it's really difficult!

"Other than that, you have to start investing in yourself and practise self-care to focus on your growth. So, surround yourself with people who love and support you like your friends and family," said Priscilla.

Those who are healing from a situationship can also invest and pour all their energy into interests that they've put off, such as exploring restaurants, travelling, and spending time with their friends.

"And if you do need extra support to navigate these kinds of situations, then, of course, reach out to a mental health practitioner, like a counsellor or clinical psychologist," she added.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Hoang Bin/Pexels

Priscilla touches on ghosting, which is where a person abruptly ends communication with someone without explanation.

She also offers advice on what we should if we're stuck in a cycle of situationships.

Here's a video of it below:

Despite the lack of a committed title, situationships can indeed come with emotional baggage.

So, is it actually meant for you?

Based on the conversation with Priscilla, it's evident that the answer to whether situationships are healthy for a person depends on what you truly want from a relationship at the present moment.

If you desire a deeper emotional connection, it's important to set that tone from the start of a relationship to avoid disappointment.

The key to any good relationship is communication, so it's crucial to clearly communicate your feelings and expectations in a situationship.

Most importantly, if you find yourself at the painful end of a situationship, don't hesitate to seek professional help or talk to your loved ones.

Remember, situationships are just as serious and impactful as committed relationships!

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